Understandably, The Wine Cellar has a strong reputation for the unbeatable selection of Portuguese vino held in its cavernous downstairs room. Local booze connoisseurs know to keep an eye out for the special tasting events that take place around the long central table, too.
But coffee geeks are also to be found here. At 10am the place is bustling with cheery patrons enjoying the ritual of espresso shot – or bica to use the Portuguese term – with delicious Pasteis de Nata, aka custard tart, on the side.
In the gloomy weather, it’s the perfect antidote. Strong and lovely bicas, a 60/40 Arabica Robusta mix direct from Portugal, went down a treat, as did their essential crumbling, eggy accompaniment.
And at a mere £2 for the combo it’s an affordable and totally delicious little luxury. The setting is also delightfully authentic too. Not everyone is immediately aware how important coffee is in Portugal, but this family run business will set you straight, taking their coffee as seriously as they famously do their wine.
And Vladimir, one of the younger members of the clan who was behind the counter on our visit, is more than happy to talk through every edible product on display. Meanwhile the rich nutty flavours of the shot combined with the overall ambience for an almost faultless morning pick-me-up experience.
Stepping outside, we felt like we’d spent quarter of an hour in a Bairro Alto backstreet rather than at the rumbling junction with Prince of Wales Road.
Words & Pics: Tom Kihl